Hawks rebound; beat Queen’s 37-18

Game 1
Photo: Mathew McCarthy, Waterloo Region Record

Christine Rivet
Waterloo Region Record

WATERLOO, ON — Wilfrid Laurier’s defence? Spectacular. Special teams? Exemplary. The offence? Not so much.

But the Golden Hawks offensive unit played good enough to help post a come-from-behind 37-18 win over the Queen’s Golden Gaels in an Ontario University Athletics football opener on Sunday.

And sometimes, good enough is all it takes.

“A win’s a win — especially in Week 1,” said head coach Michael Faulds, whose Hawks shook off a 15-9 deficit in the third quarter to cruise to victory before 1,144 fans at University Stadium.

“Finally, we made some plays on offence in the fourth quarter and won the game.”

Laurier’s defence and specials combined to score 16 points by themselves and also forced five turnovers as the Hawks went on to score 21 points off those turnovers.

“Laurier is a good team,” said Queen’s head coach Pat Sheahan, after his Gaels wilted badly in the game’s final five minutes. “(The Hawks) are deadly off of turnovers.”

In other OUA games Sunday afternoon, Guelph downed Toronto 41-22 and York tamed Waterloo 57-13.

In Sunday night’s action, Western entertained Windsor and McMaster was home to Carleton.

Trailing by two points with 5:43 left in the contest, Laurier’s all-Canadian cornerback Godfrey Onyeka turned the tide.

He picked off an errant Nate Hobbs pass and returned it 43 yards for the score. Onyeka recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set up another Hawk score.

“It was all right. I can play a lot better,” Onyeka said. “I got beat a lot today (on his coverage). But it was a team effort today.”

Hawks super sophomore Nathan Mesher kicked a pair of field goals, including a career-best 49-yarder in the first quarter. He added a rouge on another wide field-goal attempt.

Laurier’s offence mostly sputtered as quarterback Julien John gave up four interceptions and the Hawks’ once-formidable ground game settled for 152 yards.

John did connect with his receivers 10 times for 158 yards, including a pair of second-half TD passes to Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (31 yards) and Mario Villamizar (27 yards).

Laurier’s tailback Eric Guiltinan scored a late-game seven-yard score on a run.

But the hosts’ numerous unnecessary roughness penalties and the Hawks’ slow-to-ignite offence looked to be their undoing for a time.

“We play on a fine line,” Faulds explained. “I love the energy and excitement. It’s part of the reason why we have a lot of success on defence. It’s also the reason we take some penalties.

“The offence? We’ve got to take the positives from late in the game. We definitely have some things to clean up. If we are turnover-free, we are going to be a good football team.”

Onyeka’s cousin, Nakas Onyeka, recorded nine tackles on the day, including a pair of sacks as Laurier’s D steamrolled to nine quarterback sacks. Malcolm Thompson chipped in with 8.5 tackles.

Jonah Pataki got the visitors on the board with a two-yard touchdown run on Queen’s first possession in the second quarter.

For Queen’s, which also surrendered a safety, Matteo Del Brocco collected a 10-yard pass from Hobbs for another Gaels’ TD and Nick Liberatore kicked a 31-yard field goal and a rouge for Queen’s.

The Hawks entertain the York Lions on Labour Day. It’s a 7:30 p.m. start at University Stadium.

Waterloo entertains Ottawa the same Monday for a 1 p.m. matinee.

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